Dad would never
let on how he got
his nickname.

Even mom, who used
Sonny for all but scolds,
wasn’t telling

and you’d have
more luck convincing
some chicken Colonel

to part
with the nuclear codes
than in persuading

his old friends
to let you in
on the secret.

A shrug
and a wink
was the most they would offer.

we had theories—

some relic
of a wild
and lurid past—

though dad
was the kindest man
I ever knew.

watching a crop
of neophytes

search for enlightenment
could not have
been more pleased

than dad
as we tried to puzzle
it out.

Once, just before he passed,
dad and I took
a gentle stroll

around the neighborhood
and he pointed
to a stranger and said

there is
a whole life
we cannot imagine.

But I didn’t
the connection.

Just last week
a friend used
sonder on a triple word

in Scrabble.
I lost the challenge,
but finally understood.

And, now the word,
like some fond, fair memory,
will never leave me.